The City of Fernie has approved the rezoning of two lots in Cedar Bowl Place from P2 (parks and open space) to R1B – single detached plus residential.
Lot 1, District Lot 4589 has been rezoned from P2 parks and open space to R1B – single detached plus residential.
A public hearing was held during the regular council meeting on February 11. Council received four letters and four members of the public spoke to council about their concerns. Emergency access and egress is a concern because of the neighbouring properties’ steep slope and narrow lane remaining once the two lots are developed, as is continued access to trails for recreational activities such as mountain biking and snowshoeing.
Valerie and Gordon Robertson own lots 20 and 24 and in a letter to Council said, “The proposed lot development is immediately adjacent to our two properties and completely eliminates our access to the rear of our two lots and to the trail that require egress to emergency vehicles for Fernie Fire Rescue and the City of Fernie, ambulance and police. This is unacceptable and in fact a strong reason to object to the zoning change. This has already happened to our citizens on one occasion and here we are without emergency support. This is a situation that the residents would not like to find themselves in again and the City of Fernie would not like to find itself responsible for, we are sure. Egress for emergency vehicles must be made and access available at all times.”
Property owner Steven Kelly stated in his letter to Council that the right away was set aside for emergency access. He also stated that the lot zoned P2 (parks and open space) is one reason he purchased the adjacent lot as he found it to be a desirable place to live. He has also had a right away agreement with BC Hydro since 2010.
More residents echoed the green open space as a reason for their land purchase.
“The cutline and the lack of homes behind Cedar Bowl Place is one of the reasons we purchased here,” said Al and Jo Williams of #4 Cedar Bowl Place in their letter to Council.
Simon Howse of Parastone Developments addressed some of the concerns at the request of Council. “Your concerns are my concerns,” said Howse. “The proposed changes have been part of the Official Community Plan (OCP) since 2008 and that’s all we’re trying to complete [with the rezoning application]. I’m a big supporter of the Fernie Trails Alliance and intend to support it whole heartedly so there will be no interruption to the trail access. Regarding emergency access, there is a statutory right of way and it will be part of any kind of building development.”
Councillor Joe Warshawsky asked Bruce Lennox, City of Fernie planner, to address the Kellys’ concerns.
“When the Kelly’s purchased their land, [the adjacent lot] was zoned as P2,” said Lennox. “But in 2008 there was an amendment and it was designated a special policy area, then in schedules S and T it was designated as DR1, which would allow for single family development. The rezoning is consistent with the OCP and it’s important to note that the 3.5 metre right of way on the property actually widens out to seven metres as it moves to the back. There is a statutory building scheme on title. My point is the majority of that strip [of land] will remain P2.
“As the approving officer I wouldn’t approve the subdivision [without the statutory right of way], so it would be a condition of approval [to have access] from Cedar Bowl Place south to Castle Mountain Road. We’re going to obtain that through this process.”
“Condition of approval includes trail access. There have been two events in the last five to 10 years where people have been evacuated due to gas line breaks. It’s an issue that the City should take seriously.”
Marilyn Robertson of #5 Cedar Bowl Place urged the City of Fernie to get the funds to develop the egress.
Councillor Phil Iddon commented, “It’s good that the concerns have been heard so we may consider these two things as they are very important to the people.”